The NY Jets apparently knew that Steve McLendon would be traded before Sunday’s game.
The NY Jets recently traded away team captain and their longest-tenured player, Steve McLendon, in a move that saw the veteran nose tackle pack his bags and head south to Tampa Bay to join the Buccaneers.
Except, it seems as though he already had his bags packed before he took the field for one last time with the Jets on Sunday.
McLendon spoke to Buccaneers’ reporters soon after arriving in Tampa Bay and he mentioned that he was made aware of the trade on Saturday night, mere hours before the winless Jets took on the Miami Dolphins this past Sunday.
Despite the trade already being agreed to and despite playing for an absolutely abysmal Jets team, McLendon insisted on playing one final game alongside his teammates.
The Jets lost the game 24-0 and were blown out yet again. But McLendon’s leadership and locker room presence shined through to the very end of his Jets tenure.
McLendon had the following to say about the situation.
“I got the news on Saturday night a car would be waiting for me after the game Sunday to come to Tampa. And I was like, ‘Okay.’ Sunday morning, I woke up. I prayed.
“And I was like, ‘It’s one last ride.’ I told my boys, I was like, ‘It’s one last ride together.’ A lot of guys were saying like, ‘Man, you’re going to really play?’ And I was like, ‘This might be the last time I play with you in my career.’”
This is quite a rare situation as both teams were taking an inherent risk by allowing McLendon to play in the game. If the 34-year-old had gotten injured, it likely would have rendered the entire deal null and void.
But McLendon wanted to play and the Jets did right by him allowing him to suit up with his teammates one last time.
The NY Jets will miss Steve McLendon’s impact on and off the field.
McLendon signed with the Jets in the 2016 offseason and spent the last five years with the organization not only serving as one of their more underrated on-field contributors but as the heart and soul of the locker room.
Few players, if any at all, were more respected than McLendon during his time with the team. And although it’s probably for the best for the team to part ways, it’s certainly a bittersweet ending to an unheralded impressive run.
Even at 34-years-old, McLendon is playing some of the best football of his career finishing as Pro Football Focus‘ No. 12 ranked interior defensive lineman a year ago.
The Jets will surely miss McLendon’s on and off-field leadership. But at least he got to play one final game with his teammates before he was shipped to Tampa.